Sorry I didn't get to this last night, but I was out. As practically everyone who watches recruiting expected, Dakari Johnson, ranked #13 by Rivals.com and #15 by Scout.com, committed to Kentucky last night at the Cancer Research Classic. Johnson is ranked #1 in his position by both services. Johnson picked Kentucky over the Syracuse Orange and Georgetown Hoyas.
This marks the fifth straight year [subscription] that Kentucky has landed the #1 center in America, which is kind of interesting considering that Kentucky under John Calipari has been known more for point guards than big men. Perhaps it is the fact that Kentucky attracts such great guards that makes UK so interesting to centers, or perhaps it's just Calipari's winning personality, the panache of playing for such a great school and always having a chance to win it all. Whatever it is, it's noteworthy.
Johnson was also a former teammate of Kentucky fan favorite and 2012 national championship team member Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. If Johnson works even half as hard as MKG at Kentucky, the Big Blue Nation is really going to love him.
Kentucky's 2013 class now has the #4, 5, 10, 13 and 18 Rivals.com players either signed or verbally committed (note-Johnson is the only verbal right now). There is an excellent chance that UK will also land one or both of the top two players in the country, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle.
Kentucky is set up to land a historic class, the best in history by any school, if they sign either Randle, Wiggins, or even #6 Aaron Gordon. Adam Zagoria reports that this is having a profound effect on professional scouts:
One thing’s for sure, NBA scouts will be spending quite a bit of time next season in Lexington with all the talent Kentucky has amassed.
"Some teams will be renting apartments next to Rupp Arena," the NBA scout told SNY.tv.
"Kentucky has established itself as the top destination in college basketball for all NBA personnel to determine just how good the lottery is based on their talent each and every year," a second NBA scout said.
I'm not really comfortable with the idea of NBA scouts seriously moving into apartments in Lexington, but this is America, and I suppose if they want to do that, they can. But Kentucky is going to have to continue the extraordinary diligence that has been the hallmark of the University when it comes to protecting players from the influence of the NBA while they are at UK.
It has been said that with great success comes great responsibility, and as Kentucky's success continues to grow, the demands that Coach Cal has to maintain the highest standard of performance, accountability, and compliance will continue to escalate. Consider this:
Longtime Calipari confidante William Wesley, known as "Worldwide Wes," also was on hand Thursday when Montverde beat Roselle Catholic in New Jersey.
You can be sure you'll be hearing about this everywhere. There is nothing like a "Worldwide Wes" sighting to fire up the conspiracy theories from the Tinfoil Hat Brigade.
Johnson's game is a lot more DeMarcus Cousins than Nerlens Noel or Anthony Davis. He is a big, wide body with good hands and a lot less athleticism than either of UK's last two top centers. He has a wide backside reminiscent of Jared Sullinger, and a nice touch out to 15 feet, and possibly further. Johnson can finish through traffic with either hand. There is not a lot of "Wow!" in his game, his play is based more on fundamentals and below-the-rim moves than high-flying altitude.
As college centers go, he is absolutely ideal for the class that is going to surround him. He rebounds both offensively and defensively, blocks shots more with position and length than bounce, and has excellent hands. Here's a little video taste:
Dakari Johnson -- get to know him, you're going to love him. He has everything John Calipari wants in a player, and it is very likely he'll be leading us to the promised land yet again next year